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one swollen tonsil and lymph node
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brown_eyed_reagan posted:
I know the limitations of diagnosing a medical problem via the internet, but I appreciate any insight you can provide.

Some background: I am a 26 year old female who is prone to tonsillitis and strep throat (approximately once annually) but I rarely come down with anything else. I am a social drinker and smoker (two packs a month at my peak, though substantially fewer in the past 6 months). I have a family history of cancer (testicular, ovarian, and breast cancers in 3 generations).

I have no other symptoms of being ill except one swollen tonsil to the point that my uvula is constantly stuck to the side and the corresponding lymph node that now resembles a small Adam's apple on the side of my throat and is very tender. There are no white infection spots on the tonsil nor is it exceptionally red, although it is noticeably inflamed and irritated. I do not have a fever, my liver is not tender, and I feel well rested.

I know that it is in my best interest to see a doctor to get a proper examination and tests administered, but right now that is my last option. I am mostly concerned because of the asymmetry. How concerned should I really be? I increased my fluid intake, gargle with salt water, and I am considering taking ibuprofen for the inflammation. What more should I do?

Thank you in advance.
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Rod_Moser_PA_PhD responded:
Tonsils do not have to be symmetrical. It is not uncommon to find people with tonsils of different sizes. However, if you are having painful, swollen tonsils, this is more of a concern. As you mentioned, I do not have any way of examining your tonsils to know if you have "normal, asymmetrical tonsils" or not, so at some point, you will need to see a good ENT for an official opinion on this issue.

Tonsils are lymph tissue so you can get enlarged lymph nodes if the tonsils are inflammed or infected. White spots on the tonsils may or may not be pathological, since some white spots are merely debris from eating that became trapped in the crypts or craters of your tonsils.

Tonsils that are large or harbor strep often need to be removed, but again, I don't know if you fall into this category or not.


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